Saturday, March 22, 2014

Maria Hoefl-Riesch Retires

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive
German superstar Maria Hoefl-Riesch announced last Thursday that she was retiring from World Cup competition. Maria was a giant figure in ski racing, and we are not just referring to her being one of the tallest women in the World Cup. She was one of the very last true all-around ski racers who had the potential to be on the podium in every discipline. Maria's legacy is a great one. She won 4 Olympic medals (3 gold, 1 silver), 6 World Championship medals (2 gold, 4 bronze), and 9 Junior World Championship medals (5 gold, 2 silver, 2 bronze). In the World Cup she had 27 wins (11th all-time), 81 podiums (7th all-time), and 175 top-10 finishes (5th all-time). Maria had one World Cup overall title plus 2 slalom globes, 1 downhill globe, 1 Super-G globe, and 1 super-combined globe. The others have already reported this story, but we have our unique perspective on Maria's retirement. Here to talk with one of our intrepid reporters is a representative from the German Ski Federation (DSV). He wanted to remain anonymous, so we will call him Hans. Let's find out what Hans has to say.

BB: Maria's decision to retire surprised a lot of ski racing fans. Were your colleagues at the DSV also surprised?
Hans: We heard rumours that this would be Maria's last season, but also heard that she may stick around for one more. So no, it was not a total surprise for us.
BB: Why did she decide to retire when she was on top?
Hans: She has her reasons and obviously knows what is best for herself and her future.
BB: Did the injuries that she incurred in the last downhill race in Lenzerheide influence her decision?
Hans: Maria is keeping quiet about her reasons, which is her right. It could be that her injury was one reason, but I believe she decided about retirement even before Lenzerheide.
BB: Is she pregnant?
Hans: No, though she has indicated before that she wants to settle down with her husband and start a family. It's hard to have a stable family life while traveling and racing.
BB: Bode Miller managed to bring his wife and baby along everywhere he went last season.
Hans: Bode is also a man. As far as I know, he is unable to get pregnant. Besides, his wife appears to do most of the child care while Bode is training and racing. She is also the one who holds the baby up for the cameras and not Bode. It just wouldn't look proper if Maria's husband held his baby for the TV cameras.
BB: That's true. The baby would actually be his and not his stepchild or a baby that was borrowed from one of the spectators. (slight pause) If Maria and her husband do have children, will they become ski racers like their mother?
Hans: You never know. They are currently living in Austria, where kids learn to ski before they learn to crawl or walk. I heard that Hermann Maier already has his twin daughters on skis.
BB: If Maria's children became ski racers, would they compete for Austria or Germany?
Hans: I would guess for Germany. Hopefully they won't be in the same situation as Fritz Dopfer with people asking if they are really German or Austrian.
BB: Now for a question that the whole ski world has been asking...Did Lindsey Vonn somehow convince Maria to retire?
Hans: Why would Lindsey have any influence over Maria? They are best friends.
BB: There are many reasons. First of all, Lindsey never fully forgave Maria for beating her by 3 points for the overall globe in 2011.
Hans: From what my colleagues and I have seen, what you say is not true. They are good friends. Anyway, Lindsey won the overall globe in 2012 and any hard feelings toward Maria disappeared.
BB: Lindsey is also coming back next season after two knee injuries and operations. Perhaps she wants Maria out of the way to help eliminate some of the competition.
Hans: If Lindsey Vonn really wants to eliminate her competition, she would need to hire a full squad of hit men to not only take out Maria, but Lara Gut, Anna Fenninger, Mikaela Shiffrin, Tina Maze, Tina Weirather, Viktoria Rebensburg, and most of the other women in the World Cup.
BB: Red Bull, which is one of Lindsey's main sponsors, has some dangerous hit men, especially Vinnie "The Shark" Razzovelli.
Hans: Don't forget, we have a witch doctor who could put a spell on any Mafia hit man who decides to get near any of our racers.
BB: Speaking of witch doctors, will Dr. Mabongo stay with the DSV? He was hired specifically to work with Maria and he did a great job. (see this story)
Hans: Dr. Mabongo will stay with the DSV, though we are not sure if he will stay and work with the women's team or transfer to the men's team. But we are not sending him back to the Congo or trading him to another team.
BB: That is good to hear.
Hans: Germany was the first ski team to get a witch doctor and it would not look very good if we sent him back. It would send a message to the other teams that witch doctors are not really necessary.
BB: We wouldn't want that. Anyway, I don't think that the Congo could handle a bunch of unemployed witch doctors returning there. (slight pause)  Maria's retirement marks the end of an era in ski racing. Last season she was one of only two true all-around racers in the World Cup who had the ability to get on the podium in every discipline. With her retirement the age of real all-around racers is coming to a close.
Hans: Ski racing has become more specialized. Athletes are either speed or technical specialists. Maria was rare because she excelled at everything. Giant slalom was her weak event, but most of the other women in the World Cup wished that they were as "weak" in GS as Maria was
BB: Maria's retirement also marks the end of an era for something else. Maria was one of the last racers to get married and have a double-barreled name. She was Maria Hoefl-Riesch and not simply Maria Hoefl.
Hans: Wait a minute! Other female racers have gotten married after Maria did.
BB: They did. But Regina Mader caused mass confusion when she changed her name to Regina Sterz after she got married. Fellow Milka Girl Sarka Strachova announced her marriage in advance to avoid the confusion that Regina caused. (see this story and also this one)
Hans: Marianne Kaufmann-Abderhalden has a double-barreled name.
BB: She is also divorced. Maria is one of the last racers with a double-barreled name who is still happily married. Now that Maria has retired, only Nadja Jnglin-Kamer is left.
Hans: I never realized it.
BB: That's because the Blickbild has the most intrepid research team in the business. It is our job to know these things. So what are Maria's future plans?
Hans: I would imagine for now that she wants to rest and recover from her injuries. We will find out anything more if she decides to announce it.
BB: That sounds fair. I'm sure that whatever Maria does in the future, she will be just as successful at it as she was at ski racing. Well, it looks like we are out of time. I want to thank you for this interview. On behalf of the Boston Blickbild, I want to wish Maria all the best in her post-retirement life. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: There is only one word that we have for Maria Hoefl-Riesch---Respect!

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